Synopses & Reviews
From evolution to the epidural and beyond, Tina Cassidy presents a lively, enlightening, and impeccably researched cultural history of how and why we are born the way we are. Women have been giving birth for millennia, so why is it that every culture — and every generation — seems to have its own ideas about the best way to get a baby born? Among the topics that Tina Cassidy looks at are: why birth can be so difficult (blame our ability to walk on two legs, for instance), where women deliver, how the perception of midwives has changed (they were once burned as witches), the lives of some famous obstetricians, and the many ways childbirth has been deadly (lots of blame to go around). Birth is full of quirky details, startling facts, and tales both humorous and disturbing — from men disguised as women to get into delivery rooms to a news flash about a woman giving herself a C-section. From Jessica Mitford's seminal The American Way of Death to Mary Roach's Stiff, we've witnessed how millions of readers are fascinated by what happens at the end of life. Here is the riveting true story of how it begins.
"Anyone who has taken a prenatal education class in the last decade can detail much of what Boston Globe reporter Cassidy documents about birthing battles in her enjoyable new book. What she so cogently adds is a history of Western practices and attitudes surrounding birth, from the 'God-sibs' (or 'gossips') who sat by a woman's bed in Europe and early America to the scheduled cesarean of today. The book is well written and will be an important eye-opener to many. Cassidy works hard to remain neutral, but a preference for the discourse of 'natural' birth creeps in. She looks nostalgically back at times when most women gave birth at home with female midwives in attendance. This leads to some problematic moments, as when she wants to argue that, historically, birth was not the danger to women's lives that many today assume. But then she has to admit that pioneer women wrote their wills before giving birth and that most women who die in childbirth today are in the non-Western world, where they lack access to hospitals. This is, by Cassidy's admission, the work of a woman disappointed by her own birthing experience. But that, too, is a product of our time the idea that we 'deserve' a certain experience as we give birth." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Theres a collective, willful amnesia about birth as if its an alien visitation, rather than the normal order of things that has been begging for her clear-headed dissipation. We want it to be meaningful and we want it to be mercifully brief. This book is both." Alexandra Jacobs,The New York Times Book Review
"Women have been giving birth for millennia, so why do all cultures and generations have their own ideas about childbirth? In Birth, Cassidy looks at why birth can be so difficult, where women deliver, how the perception of midwives and doctors have changed, and the fads of childbirth." Pregnancy & Childbirth
Why do all cultures--and generations--have their own ideas about childbirth? Cassidy looks at why birth can be so difficult, where women deliver, how the perceptions of midwives and doctors have changed, and the fads of childbirth.